PARSIPPANY, N.J. - Tax preparer Jackson Hewitt Inc. will give income tax filers the option of getting their federal tax refunds on a stored-value Jackson Hewitt MasterCard that can be redeemed for cash at automated teller machines or used at merchants that accept MasterCard.

The company offers another card option to filers who wish to take out a loan against their anticipated refunds. They can get their money a few weeks earlier on a Western Union card, which can be used at ATMs, or to make purchases at MAC and STAR point of sale terminals, or to obtain or transfer cash at Western Union agencies.

Fees for the card products range from $25 to $50, plus interest if the customer chooses to take a loan.

Customers who choose the Western Union Cash Card can take their cards home immediately and use them within 48 hours. Customers who want to wait until the Internal Revenue Service releases their refunds will get embossed MasterCards mailed to their homes within two weeks.

Michael D. Lister, an executive vice president at Jackson Hewitt, said the company prepared tax returns for 1.8 million people in 2000. He said 93% of them got refunds.

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